Mike Stevens | Mar 7, 2012

Renault's tiny Zoe electric vehicle has made its production debut at this week's Geneva Motor Show, nearly two years since it appeared as a concept at the Paris Motor show.

Fans of the concept will be pleased to see that the Zoe concept, which was one of the first to reveal Renault's new family styling, has crossed into production with its original look intact.

The Zoe's underside also remains largely unchanged, its synchronous electric motor delivering the same 65kW and 220Nm of torque it produced in concept form.

Renault says its little electric hatch will offer a homologated driving range of around 210 kilometres. Breaking that down, the carmaker describes a "real world" range of around 100km in cold weather and 150 kilometres in more temperate conditions.

A recharge for the Zoe's lithium-ion battery pack can be completed in just one hour at a dedicated station,

All-in-all, the Zoe's output and performance are largely par for the course. What truly sets the Zoe apart, however, is its cost.

In France, where the government offers a AU$6200 tax incentive, the Zoe starts at around AU$19,000. In the UK, with a $AU6450 incentive, the Zoe can be had for around AU$20,000.

That's cheap. It's not ground-breaking cheap - Mitsubishi's i-MiEV can be had for around AU$23,000 in the UK with the same incentives - but it is properly affordable.

By comparison, the i-MiEV sells in Australia - without the benefit of incentives, because our government doesn't offer them - for $48,800.

And, if we're honest, the Zoe is a good deal more stylish than the pioneering i-MiEV.

renault zoe production overseas 11

Whether the Zoe can better the i-MiEV's price in Australia is unclear (even Renault isn't sure at this point), but an entry below $40,000 has been reported.

Don't get too excited though, because there's one other thing to consider before our European readers sign the along the dotted line: battery leasing.

In Europe - and likely here also, thanks to Renault's partnership with battery and charging vendor Better Place - the car's lithium-ion battery will be leased to Zoe buyers for AU$98 per month.

On the plus side, the 36-month contract includes 12,500 yearly kilometres of comprehensive roadside assistance and replacement batteries.

 

Australia

A local debut for the Zoe is still to be locked in, but speaking with TMR today, Renault Australia's Emily Ambrosy confirmed that the little EV is under consideration.

"We're introducing our first electric vehicle this year, the Fluence Z.E, so we're definitely proceeding with EVs," Ms Ambrosy said.

"Zoe represents the future for Renault, it's a ground-up electric vehicle and it looks fantastic, and we do look forward to being able to offer it as part of our range in the future."

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